Aside from their political parties -- North was a Republican and Ridder a Democrat -- the women had similar careers. Both were teachers, raised children, and were elected to state positions at a time when few women held office. In 1991 North and Ridder were retiring from an elective public office and were among the longest-serving civic leaders in the state.
The league's recognition came at a time when many people imagined that North and
Ridder were retiring, but both continued to be active in civic issues. In 1998 North extended her career by accepting a
position to head the Elevated
Transportation Company board, a creation of the Monorail Initiative (for
possible extension of the Seattle Monorail). In 2000 Governor Gary
Locke (b. 1950) appointed her to the Central Puget Sound Growth
Management Hearings Board, on which she served until 2006.
North had volunteered with the Seattle League of Women Voters in the 1960s when she, her husband, and their three sons were a young family. She quickly rose in the league's ranks, serving as the group's president and began lobbying in Olympia for league issues, particularly a state redistricting project.
In 1968 she was elected to the state House of Representatives where she served three terms, representing the 44th District, King County. She resigned in 1974 to run for the state Senate and served in the Senate until 1979.
During her term in the House, North sponsored the abortion reform bill in 1970, and was a key legislator in the passage of the Washington state Equal Rights Amendment in 1972. She also sponsored and supported many bills on environmental issues. Her Senate career in Olympia was followed by 22 years on the King County Council, from 1980 to 1991.
Ruthe and Robert Ridder lived in Seattle's Rainer Valley with their five children. The Ridders became involved in politics through education issues. In 1966 Robert Ridder won a state Senate seat, representing the 35th District. Ruthe Ridder was an organizer in his campaign and worked closely with him on issues during his years as senator.
When Robert decided to retire, Ruthe ran for the position and won. She served three terms as state senator, primarily assigned to committees on Labor, Economics, and Education.
Later she became King County Assessor. In 1991 she announced that she would not seek an additional term as King County Assessor. Although Ridder believed she could win again, she had drawn criticism for having raised property valuations and thus property taxes to homeowners and businesses. Ruthe Ridder saw herself as representing a growing number of female heads-of-households, poor families, non-English-speaking residents, and unskilled workers.